WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSMiami/AP) — Hillary Clinton says she is the most qualified candidate in the presidential race to combat terrorism within the U.S. after weekend attacks in three states.
The Democratic presidential candidate touted her national security credentials at a hastily scheduled press conference outside her campaign plane, denigrating rival Donald Trump for using the incidents to make “some kind of demagogic point.”
“I’m the only candidate in this race whose been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield,” Clinton, a former secretary of state, told reporters. “I have sat at that table in the Situation Room.”
She added: “I know how to do this.”
New York’s governor and mayor said Monday that the bombings in a Manhattan neighborhood and a New Jersey shore town are looking increasingly like acts of terrorism with a foreign connection.
Police have taken a 28-year-old immigrant into custody, wanted for questioning in the blasts.
Authorities are also investigating the stabbings of nine people at a Minnesota mall as a possible act of terrorism.
The investigations cast a long shadow over the presidential race, diverting both candidates’ plans for the day. Trump was expected to cancel a fundraiser and a town hall meeting in Florida on Monday.
He once again took credit for predicting current events, pointing to his Saturday night announcement that a bomb had caused the explosion in New York City. That was before authorities had publicly said so.
“I should be a newscaster because I called it before the news,” he told “Fox and Friends” in a phone interview.
Trump said he believes there’s a foreign connection to the attack, though it was unclear how the Republican obtained that information. His campaign declined to say whether it came from a national security briefing.
Clinton urged voters not to “get diverted and distracted by the kind of campaign rhetoric we hear from the other side.” She insinuated that Islamic militants, particularly those affiliated with ISIS, are rooting for Trump to win the White House and are using some of his controversial proposals to recruit fighters. The Republican has said he would bar immigration from nations with ties to terrorism.
Clinton said the country can meet the attacks in “concert with our values.”
“We’re going after the bad guys and we’re going to get them, but we’re not going to go after an entire religion,” Clinton said.
Clinton and her team sees her foreign policy expertise as a key selling point for her candidacy. On the campaign trail, she frequently invokes her role in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, regaling voters with her account of being in the White House’s Situation Room alongside President Barack Obama.
Clinton will briefly turn her focus from national security later Monday, when she woos younger voters at a Philadelphia university. Her campaign acknowledges they need to do more to get millennials on board.
She’s scheduled to meet with the leaders of Egypt, Ukraine and Japan later in the day in New York City. The leaders are in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
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